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Opponents Of Bottle Tax Unite In An Effort To Stop Increase

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The battle over the bottle tax increase has been raging for months.  The mayor is getting ready to introduce the official legislation.

Monique Griego was there as the opposition banded together.

Bottles are at the center of a war that’s about to come to a head.

Union workers, beverage companies and local businesses banded together to show their opposition against the proposed bottle tax increase.

“It’s going to cost jobs. It’s going to cost working families money and it’s just the wrong direction for the city to take,” said Ellen Valentino, Maryland Beverage Association.

The mayor is expected to introduce legislation to raise the tax from 2 to 5 cents.

“We struggle every day to keep things going,” said Sandy Vary, Bi-Rite Supermarket.

Vary owns Bi-Rite Supermarket on Belair Road. She says the original 2-cent tax cut her sales by 5 percent.  She fears increasing city taxes will send more customers to the county.

“That we’re going to lose not only the beverage sales, but we’re also going to lose the rest of everybody’s shopping basket, and that’s huge for us,” said Vary.

The debate over the bottle tax increase has been raging for several months, and those that support it are just as passionate.

“I feel very comfortable moving forward that this is something that we can use to help change the landscape when it comes to fiscal needs, the physical needs for our schools,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

The mayor estimates the tax hike will bring in $10 million a year and increase the city’s contribution to school construction by 140 percent.

Opponents say they know the schools need help, but don’t believe bottles are the way to do it.

“You can’t tell me they can’t come up with a plan to take the burden off the back of working class people,” said Tim Goins, United Workers.

The bottle tax is only part of the mayor’s better schools initiative, which she hopes will bring in $300 million in school construction funding.  The tax will be introduced at Monday’s council meeting.

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